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The Merciful Neighbor

(Luke 10:25-37)

Lesson 7 -- fourth quarter 2001
October 14, 2001

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2001, Christian Light Publications

Why do you question?

As a teacher, I ask many questions. Some questions I ask because I want to learn; others I ask because I want my students to learn. Some questions I ask to lead my students to answers; others I ask to guide them away from error. Some questions I ask to test my students; others I ask to try to confuse them. Some questions I ask to find truth; others I ask to hide facts.

Many reasons exist for asking questions. Beware of asking questions with the wrong motives. Avoid asking questions with the intent of trapping others and securing some sort of advantage for yourself. Do not ask questions in an effort to justify yourself in your wrong. Neither should we ask insincere or rebellious questions. Let's remember that the biggest best reason for asking questions is that we might learn, so that we can then do and obey.

Responding to the needs of others.

A certain man traveled along the Jerusalem-Jericho Road when he saw a fellow traveler in desperate need. The injured man lay as a stark reminder of the dangers on this stretch of road. He was also the well man's social and religious enemy. How should the well man respond to the battered man's need? Again he had to make a choice from several options available to him.

Condemnation. "You are here because of God's judgment on you. He is never unjust with anyone, so you're obviously getting your just dues. It's too bad you aren't more like I am, who am quite well, as you can see. Why should I interfere with God's work in your life? I might short-circuit the lesson He wants you to learn. Besides, this might teach you to be more careful." On and on I could go, putting into the mind and lips of the good Samaritan the thoughts that so easily pass through my own mind altogether too often. God help me!

Fear. "I'd stop to help this chap, but I can't shake the feeling that he's a goner anyway. And talking about shaking feelings, the thought of sticking around in this dangerous place gives me the shakes. Besides, I should not put my family at risk by taking chances around here. Oh, come to think of it, I flunked that first aid course anyway, so I might end up hurting him rather than helping. And I just thought of something else: If I start helping him now, where will it all end? How will I get rid of him later?" I called this fear, but it has a strong ring of incredible selfishness and hardness.

Compassion. "Easy there, my friend. Have a drink. Now hang on while I clean your wounds and put some of this ointment on them. It'll probably hurt like everything but I'll be as gentle as I know how. There! Now we need to get out of here. I'll walk ahead of my donkey so I can be sure to pick the smoothest path; no need to jar you any more than you've already been jarred. Oh, I guess you can't get on the donkey on your own. OK, put your arms around my neck; I'll hoist you up. Oh never mind that we're on opposite ends of this Jewish-Samaritan spat; I'm sure we can sort that out later. There!" Use your own imagination for the rest of the story. Then go and do likewise.

That's right! We all must make similar decisions when we find ourselves in the place to help others in need. When Jesus saw the need of others, He was moved with compassion. For us, there is the added incentive and responsibility of knowing that as we do to others, we do to Him!

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